Home' Local Media Today : August 2005 Contents SUBURBAN PUBLISHER
An Official Publication of
Suburban Newspapers of America
Suburban Publisher is published by
SNA, the only non-profit trade
association in North America that
specifically represents the needs
and interests of suburban and urban
SNA Mission Statement: SNA is a
professional organization that rep-
resents and supports the suburban
newspaper industry through leader-
ship, education, promotion,
research and the advancement of
Suburban Newspapers of America,
116 Cass Street
Traverse City, MI 49684
Web site: www.suburban-news.org
SNA Officers & Directors
Fort Washington, PA
First Vice President
Enterprise NewsMedia, LLC
Second Vice President
Community Newspaper Holdings,
Immediate Past President
Greater Media Newspapers
East Brunswick, NJ
Publishing & Distributing
Liberty Suburban Chicago
Gold Country Media
Cape Girardeau, MO
Eden Prarie, MN
Washington Suburban Press Network
Antelope Valley Press
Patuxent Publishing Company
SNA Headquarters Staff
Sales & Marketing Director
SubPub Editor Deb Shaw
Operations Mgr Bonnie Pintozzi
SCAN Coordinator Deanna Lewis
Who is Tom Northrop?
I’m a fourth generation publisher of
the Observer-Reporter, a 36,000
daily in Washington, PA, located
about a half an hour south of
Pittsburgh. My wife, Peggy, and I
are the parents of two girls, Emily
and Grace, both out of college (no
more tuition payments I hope).
How did I get into the business?
Observer Publishing Company has
been in our family since 1902 when
my great grandfather purchased the
paper. The paper itself has been in
existence since 1808. Through col-
lege I worked in various depart-
ments over the summer, mailing
room, photography, pressroom, and
editorial. After graduating college
with a history degree my wife and I
moved to Lake Placid, NY and
stayed through the 1980 Olympics.
After two years working in a job
shop I left to attend Rochester
Institute of Technology. Upon grad-
uation from RIT, came back to
Washington full time.
What I like most about the busi-
The people I work with, the constant
variety of work and knowing that we
keep local politicians on their toes.
This is a very interactive business.
You know instantly if you hit a sore
spot, make a mistake or actually do
What I like least?
Having discussions with unreason-
able people. For example, my latest
favorite, a woman threatened to sue
us because we would not run a
photo of her granddaughter, age 4,
one of 15 winners of the Crucible
Fire Hall Little Miss Firecracker pag-
eant, on a page “all by itself, with no
other pictures on it”. (We did run
the photo, but with other pictures.
The grandmother was furious).
When the well runs dry?
When our youngest daughter left for
college, my wife and I began taking
sculpture classes at the Carnegie
Museum in Pittsburgh. We’ve been
doing this for four years now and it’s
a great stress reliever. I’m also an
avid reader, mostly non-fiction. I’m
so often disappointed with the end-
ings of fiction but, no matter how
you interpret it, Mary Queen of
Scots is always beheaded in the
end. The ultimate recharging sce-
nario is a week on the Outer Banks
of North Carolina.
What do I wish I knew?
Certainly I wish I knew how much
an impact the Internet would have
on the business. I wish I knew how
to attract young readers, and keep
them. We’re a mature business in a
very mature area.
The only thing I know for certain
about the business of running a
Let your employees do their jobs.
I’m not smart enough to do every-
thing by myself. Like all businesses
we have some excellent and dedi-
cated employees. I know enough to
get out of their way when appropri-
Who or what is my major influ-
In terms of the business my major
influence would be my father. He is
a true gentleman, who worked hard
and earned the respect not only
from our employees, but the com-
munity. Newspapers should have a
commitment to their community and
he was, and remains a great exam-
ple of that. My favorite lesson from
my mother is “never lie, that way
you don’t have to remember what it
is you’ve said.”
The worlds would be a vastly bet-
ter place if only people would...?
... realize that every story has two
sides. If more people were able to
travel the world and had the oppor-
tunity to witness first hand that there
are cultures other than ours we’d be
better off. Life’s too short and
there’s far too much divisiveness in
the world today. I wish people would
be more open-minded and accept-
ing of others opinions.
What three accomplishments I’m
most proud of?
My wife and I got married right after
college will celebrate our 28th
anniversary later this year. We’ve
raised two children who graduated
college in 4 years and are on their
In 1992 we installed a new printing
press, the first since 1956. The
press and building were built on
time and on budget.
Last spring I was awarded the
Distinguished Service Award from
America East, a regional trade show
sponsored by the Pennsylvania
Newspaper Association. It’s a great
show and I’m honored to be a part
of it’s success.
No one is better than I am when it
I’m a good listener and rarely make
impulsive decisions. If people feel
strongly enough to call concerning
something in the paper, I’ll take their
complaints. I feel proud that our
employees feel comfortable enough
to call me with their concerns and I
take the time to listen. You can’t
always resolve their issues the way
they’d hoped but at least they can
air their case. I’ve always thought
that if someone has a better idea
than mine, let’s use theirs because
in the long run we’ll all be better off
I still can’t quite get the hang of?
I haven't quite gotten the hang of
power tools. I can drill holes with the
best of them, but they're not usually
aligned properly. Rudimentary things
are okay, but certainly no finish
work, unless it's covered with a table
cloth. Visions of grandeur often
accompany my attempts, but I usual-
ly end up with the same results.
If I could have dinner with any-
one, living or dead, who would it
be and why?
Being a history major there are quite
few people I’d love to talk to. But if I
could only select one I’d pick Ben
Franklin. Eccentricities aside, he
had an incredible intellectual curiosi-
ty and wit. Franklin was truly a self-
made man. From an itinerant printer,
to ambassador to France, to estab-
lishing a college and endowing a
fund that benefited citizens of
Pennsylvania 200 years after his
death are amazing accomplish-
If I couldn’t be a newspaperman,
what would you like to be doing?
I’d love to teach history at the col-
lege or university level
What do I do for kicks?
With our kids out of the house, my
wife and I enjoy going to movies and
our art classes. I ski every winter
and play poor golf during the sum-
mer. This being Steeler country, I’m
a season ticket holder and enjoy
going to the games, win or lose,
though I certainly prefer the former.
Tom Northrop is reached at
“Let your employees do their jobs.”
Links Archive July 2005 October 2005 Navigation Previous Page Next Page